A man is caught impersonating Kim Jong-un after walking through North Korea’s cheerleading squad. (Business Insider)
Chanos: And anybody that can do that and then rise to CEO, you know, had to be able to sell pretty much anything. And that I think is Elon’s greatest quality. He’s a pretty good salesman. He’s always pitching the next great idea. The problem is that the execution of the current ideas is falling short. And that’s where I think it’s problematic. And on top of that, I think — increasingly — he’s making promises that he knows he cannot keep. And I think that’s a much more ominous, turn.
Lopez: What is the most recent promise that he’s made that he can’t keep?
Chanos: Well I think the the biggest whopper that I’ve seen, and we have a spreadsheet of Elon’s whoppers, along with a longer spreadsheet of all the executive departures at Tesla. But I think the latest one that kind of stunned me was when he unveiled the semitruck — EV.
Lopez: But he hasn’t really even given us a regular car. The $30,000 car that he promised everyone.
Chanos: Well forgetting that, he said that truck will be out in 2019. And if that’s the case, those production lines have to be up now. That factory has to be up now. And where is that? I mean what factory line is going to be making a truck in 2019 and a roadster sports car that he unveiled in 2020? You can’t simply say things like that without having some evidence to back them up. You’re a public company’s CEO. And, you know, I’d want some clarification on where exactly this truck is going to be built to be out in 2019. But, you know, he’s missed production estimate after production estimate. He thought there’d be 10,000 Model 3s a week by the end of ’17.
Lopez: Isn’t it 5,000?
Chanos: Now it’s 5,000 by June. I think even worse is that people have thought they were getting a car for what amounted to $27,500 — the $35,000 base plus the federal tax credit. Now they’re realizing that the federal tax credit’s going to, basically, be over by this year. And every manufacturer has a limit.
Lopez: So then it’s a $60,000 car?
Chanos: Well the Model 3s he’s delivering now are $50,000 base pretty much. And with delivery charges and sales tax they’re probably closer to $55,000. So they’re almost twice what he promised people. And the car for $55,000 is not a particularly great car in our view. It might be for $27,500. But it competes against basically luxury cars at $55,000. And that’s a pretty competitive area and going to get more competitive.
Chanos: But he’s already talking about the Model Y.
Lopez: And Mars?
Lopez: Yeah, I mean Mars looks good I guess.
Chanos: And Mars doesn’t have a current extradition treaty with the US from what I understand.
Lopez: He could go; it’s fine. So you once said that the single most important market in the world is the Chinese property market. China has been incredibly quiet in 2018. We didn’t see our normal China puking that we do every year at the beginning of the year. So what’s going on there? And is it still the most important market in the world?
Yet Another Year of Magical Thinking
Thursday, Feb 15, 2018
Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed South African President Jacob Zuma South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will succeed Jacob Zuma as president, after Zuma announced his resignation Wednesday in a nationally televised speech. Ruling party legislators officially elected Ramaphosa on Thursday. The BBC writes that there is “a renewed sense of hope” as Ramaphosa assumes the leadership role he has had his eye on since 1994. Zuma was at the center of several scandals during his nine-year tenure, with critics claiming that his friends and family profited handsomely from his presidency. The leadership of Zuma’s party, the African National Congress, had called for his resignation on Monday. Source: BBC News
Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018
At least 17 people are killed and over 14 wounded in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida – the most deadly high school shooting in U.S. history. The suspected shooter is apprehended and identified as a 19-year-old former student. (CNN)
Eurozone GDP rises by 2.5% in 2017, a pace not seen since 2007, and industrial production is up 5.2% year-on-year. The production of durable consumer goods is up 7.4% and capital goods, indicating investments, are up 7.6%. (Reuters via Arab News)
A car accident at the headquarters of the United States National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland, injures three people. Police officers shoot at the driver, who they say was attempting to attack the building. (The Verge)
The residence of the Gupta family is raided by the South African Police Service’s elite Hawks unit and three people are arrested. (BBC)
Michael D. Cohen, the private lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump, says he made a “lawful” US$130,000 payment to porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, from his own private funds. The statement to The New York Times comes after the Common Cause organization on January 22, 2018, filed a complaint about the payment with the Federal Election Commission. (ABC News)
Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018
Russia wants YouTube and Instagram to remove videos posted by Alexey Navalny, a prominent opposition figure, describing his investigation into Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with bribing Sergey Prikhodko, Russia’s deputy prime minister, and offering information about the 2016 U.S. election he had received from Paul Manafort. (ABC News)
In closed-door proceedings at an Israeli military court in Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, 17-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi is indicted on 12 counts of assault and incitement. She is ordered held until the end of the trial, which is adjourned until next month. (PRI) (VOA)
Israeli police recommend indicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with charges of corruption and bribery. Netanyahu calls the accusations “baseless”. (NBC News)
A new plane that would fly from London to New York City in three hours has just received crucial funding. The aircraft, officially named Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) and dubbed the “Son of Concorde”, was proposed by NASA and has just been given the go-ahead by US officials. QueSST could make its maiden voyage in 2021 if all goes according to plan. If so, it will halve the current travel time between London and New York City. (Metro)
Monday, Feb 12, 2018
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte calls for female communist rebels to be shot in the genitals. Duterte’s comments are described as “a funny joke” by his spokesman, while drawing heavy criticism from others. (Al Jazeera)
Egypt bans Saturday Night Live Arabia for using “sexual expressions that are inappropriate for viewers”. (The Guardian)
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) confirms its deputy leader Khalid Mehsud has been killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan. (BBC)
The European Union urges calm and restraint after Turkish Navy warships obstruct a Cypriot offshore drilling vessel in the Eastern Mediterranean, which was approaching an area to explore for natural gas. (Reuters)
Mikheil Saakashvili, leader of the opposition Movement of New Forces party, who has been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on 26 July 2017, is detained by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kiev and deported from Ukraine to Poland. (U.S. News) (Kyiv Post) (Sputnik News)
U.S. President Donald Trump sends his US$4.4 trillion 2019 budget proposal to Congress. (The New York Times)
Sunday, Feb 11, 2018
An Antonov An-148 of Saratov Airlines with 71 people on board crashes shortly after take-off from Domodedovo Airport, Moscow, Russia. The TASS agency cites an emergency source stating that none of the 65 passengers and 6 crew members has survived. (BBC) (Reuters via The Daily Star)
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani proposes a referendum to heal country’s divisions, according to the Article 59 of constitution. (Guardian)
Saturday, Feb 10, 2018
The Israeli Army says that it shot down a Syrian UAV manufactured in Iran and, in response, it bombed the Tiyas Military Airbase in Homs Governorate, Syria, where it was launched from. (Reuters)
The Kurdish YPG shoots down a Turkish Air Force T129 ATAK helicopter over Syria’s Afrin District, killing both pilots. (Al Jazeera)
Friday, Feb 9, 2018
Trinity Mirror agrees to buy British publishing group Northern & Shell from Richard Desmond for £126.7 million. The deal gives Trinity Mirror ownership of the Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers. (The Guardian)
A Vice Motherboard report traces the origin of a significant iOS source code leak to an Apple intern and five “friends” in the iOS jailbreaking community. (The Verge via Slashdot)
The New York Times reports that the CIA handed $100,000 to an unnamed Russian intelligence source in a Berlin hotel room, allegedly expecting to get back stolen NSA hacking tools. (Newsweek)
Turkey arrests 17 leaders of the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party for opposition to the ongoing Afrin offensive. (Reuters UK)
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh claim they have successfully brought prepubescent-sourced, immature human egg cells to maturity in a laboratory for the first time. The work may be significant because it may allow the harvesting and preservation of eggs from young girls undergoing toxic cancer treatment before their lifetime reservoirs of those cells are destroyed. (BBC) (Oxford Academic)
As predicted, asteroid 2018 CB, estimated to be between 15 and 40 metres (50–130 feet) in diameter, makesa fly-by past Earth at a distance of around 64,500 km (40,100 mi). This is the second asteroid to make a fly-by this week. (The Guardian)
Thursday, Feb 8, 2018
Mexican authorities arrest American-born Jose Maria Guizar Valencia, the alleged leader of the Zetas drug cartel, as he was entering a hotel in Mexico City’s upscale neighborhood of Roma. (Los Angeles Times) (BBC)
Syria and the Russian Federation once again state that the United States’ military presence in Syria is “illegal”. United States and US-backed forces now have control of about a quarter of Syrian territory. (The Washington Post)
A force of five hundred Syrian pro-government troops supported by tanks and artillery launched a ground assault on a local headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces near the town of Khasham, in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. More than one hundred Syrian government fighters were killed in the battle, including Russian private military contractors of Wagner Group. (The Washington Post)
Germany’s trade surplus shrank in 2017 for the first time since 2009, reflecting strong domestic demand. (Reuters)
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales. Trump thanks Morales for having supported the decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They discuss various issues about the crisis in Venezuela, drug trafficking and the UN anti-corruption commission. (The Times of Israel)